N.Y. Senator Sponsors Free EEE Vaccine Clinics for Horses

New York State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she's sponsoring two no-cost Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) vaccine clinics for horses this week.

The clinics are aimed at raising public awareness and preventing the spread of EEE. The clinics--to be held Thursday evening in Heuvelton, N.Y., and Friday evening in New Haven, N.Y.--are funded by a special grant Ritchie obtained through the state budget, and in cooperation with local veterinarians.

"EEE is a very serious disease that is nearly always fatal in horses--and nearly 100% preventable, if horses are vaccinated," said Ritchie. "Yet many horse owners, farmers, and others are still unaware of the danger both to their families and to their farm animals. These clinics aim to educate farmers and horse owners, and protect a very valuable investment."

Senator Ritchie included funding in the state budget this year for low-cost vaccinations for horses. In addition to the no-cost clinics hosted by Ritchie, horse owners can also obtain a $15 discount on EEE vaccinations directly through their veterinarians.

The clinics are being conducted by two licensed veterinarians--Jack Zeh, DVM, in Heuvelton, and Reid J. Oliver, DVM, in New Haven--who have agreed to waive any additional fees for their services.

A viral disease, EEE affects the central nervous system and is transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes. The fatality rate for EEE in horses is 75-95%. The course of EEE can be swift, with death occurring two to three days after onset of clinical signs despite intensive care. Horses that survive might have long-lasting impairments and neurologic problems. Clinical signs of EEE include moderate to high fever, depression, lack of appetite, cranial nerve deficits (facial paralysis, tongue weakness, difficulty swallowing), behavioral changes (aggression, self-mutilation, or drowsiness), gait abnormalities, or severe central nervous system signs, such as head-pressing, circling, blindness, and seizures.

 

Often EEE is preventable by vaccination. Effective equine vaccines for EEE and another mosquito-borne disease, West Nile virus (WNV) are available commercially. Horse owners are encouraged to contact their veterinarians if their horses are not already up-to-date on their vaccinations against both EEE and WNV.

Interested parties are asked to preregister for the clinics by filling out an online form. The June 28 clinic will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Herschberger Farm, 210 Irish Settlement Rd., in Heuvelton. The June 29 clinic will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Town of New Haven Highway Department, 4279 State Road 104. More information on the clinics is available online.

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